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It’s time to cool off in the lake lover’s paradise

By Michele Leyenaar

CRANBROOK – The smell of suntan lotion, the sounds of kids playing and, of course, the splashing of water under your boat, SUP or floatie, are what makes Kootenay life in the summer awesome.

Photo: Janice Strong

Photo: Janice Strong

Whether you’re a fishing nut, a swimmer, a water-skier or a beach bum, there’s a lake with your name on it. There are so many lakes in the East Kootenays, some warmer and more popular than others, including provincial parks, city parks and other recreational parks. They’re all complete with swimming, fishing, boating or wildlife viewing. With so many lakes to write about, it’s hard to pick just a few!

The provincial parks with awesome swimming options include Moyie Provincial Park, Wasa Lake Provincial Park, Norbury Provincial Park and Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park, all within a half hour’s drive from Cranbrook.

Jimsmith Lake

Jimsmith Lake

Wasa Lake, named one of the warmest in the East Kootenays, and Moyie Lake allow power boats, however this activity is prohibited at Norbury and Jimsmith lakes. These four lakes are all quite popular with locals and tourists and can be quite busy during the summer months. Check out the HelloBC website for more information and links.

Wasa Lake Photo: Janice Strong

Wasa Lake Photo: Janice Strong

If you’re looking for something a little quieter, about another 20 minutes past Wasa Lake is a small body of water named Lazy Lake. And it’s just that – lazy – and one of my personal favourites. Lazy Lake’s day area doesn’t have a beach, although there is cliff jumping and spots to lay your gear if you get there early enough to beat the crowd. The serious water bums spend their time here because it’s the only real space to laze around on your floatie. At the boat launch and campground, there is more of a beach but get there early.

A quiet day at Lazy Lake Photo: Michele Leyenaar

St. Mary’s Lake is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing and those wanting to do a little fishing. If you decide to take the plunge, literally, make sure it’s a hot day. This water is cold as liquid ice!

For those looking for bird watching and wildlife viewing, Elizabeth Lake, Premier Lake Provincial Park and Whiteswan Provincial Park are wonderful little gems.
Elizabeth Lake is within city limits of Cranbrook and is not meant for swimming, fishing or boating as it’s a six-hectare wildlife reserve. Premier Lake and Whiteswan are a good 40-minute drive from Cranbrook but definitely have that “in the middle of the Canadian Rockies” feel with hiking trails, campgrounds, swimming, hiking, boating, fishing and hot springs close by.

Elizabeth Lake Photo: Janice Strong

Elizabeth Lake Photo: Janice Strong

Several other lakes can be visited if you’re willing to take a longer trip, like Koocanusa Reservoir. This is a great spot for fishermen, boaters and swimmers. It’s a little further of a drive but definitely worth it.
It’s a large lake of more than 145 kilometres long and stretches across the US border to Libby Dam (KOOtney, CANada, USA). It’s a boaters and fishermens dream. There are plenty of spots to pull up a towel and sunbathe as well as camp or rent your own boat. Check out Sunshine Houseboats for more information on charters, houseboats and the marina.

If you ‘re looking for activities to do while visiting the lakes in the area check out Cranbrook Tourism’s webpage for more ideas.

Moyie Lake Provincial Park Photo: Lies Salvador

Moyie Lake Provincial Park Photo: Lies Salvador